The Caregiving Co-op


The Caregiving Co-op

(This is the ninth article in a series about the trends in caregiving experience that bubbled up during our Third Annual National Caregiving Conference or NCC18.)

During my presentation, The Future of Caregiving, at NCC18, I shared that the companies that win in our space will embrace the community, rather than the individual, as client.

Consider a Chicagoland-based company called Cantata, which provides services for older adults at home, in the community and in a facility. The company's Take2 home care program delivers care to members of a neighborhood to create greater efficiencies and save its clients money. The company's program solves an inefficiency in the typical home care delivery model -- home health aides waiting within a home to deliver care. Rather than have aides waiting in clients' houses and clients waiting for aides, the company now has aides delivering care by traveling conveniently to clients within a neighborhood. Clients save money because they pay for aides to deliver care when they need it. The waiting, which cost the client and wasted the aide's time, is eliminated.

Through Take2, Cantata created a co-op.

About 18 months ago, I spoke with a colleague who sells caregiving products, like incontinence supplies. He noticed that groups of professional caregivers, hired independently by families, created informal buying groups. They bought in bulk for their clients, saving their clients money.

These informal buying groups also created a co-op.

Some organizations which serve children with disabilities have formed respite coops. Gift of Time Respite Cooperative, based in Ohio, organizes volunteers who help each other by donating respite hours.

Soon after launching my website in 1996, I tried to create a buying co-op of sorts. I created a Caregivers Club which offered discounts on products for its members. (I actually created membership cards by printing and laminating them in my bedroom.) I struggled to get enough companies to participate so folded the club after a few years.

Given our numbers, we certainly could organize both neighborhood and national co-ops. Our numbers become our buying power where we negotiate for services and products which puts pressure on companies to offer both affordable and efficient solutions.

In our neighborhoods, perhaps an organization like a library or church becomes the hub to organize volunteers for respite hours. Former family caregivers also could bring equipment and supplies they no longer need which can be donated to current family caregivers. (Last year's Day of Service did this on a very small scale.) The hub becomes an informal support station as former family caregivers and family caregivers stop in to give and receive.

A hospital system, which interacts with thousands of family caregivers, could naturally become a co-op for donated supplies and equipment.

Events, like our national conference, certainly creates opportunities for former family caregivers to being their no-longer-needed supplies to share with current family caregivers.

Technology has already created informal neighborhood co-ops through websites like Next Door and Craig's List. Perhaps websites could create special categories within their solutions for caregiving.

As we saw at this year's conference, we're mobilizing into a movement. Part of the mobilization could be the creation of co-ops. We're changing the idea of the family caregiver as customer into the community as payor.

Miss our Third Annual National Caregiving Conference? We recorded all our sessions so that you don’t miss any of the important conversation that occurred during our sessions.

“I work with families facing very complex, difficult care-giving situations, and very much appreciate the sophistication and depth of all the presentations I attended,” shared a conference attendee. “Thanks so very much for this wonderful conference.”

Purchase your package of NCC18 recordings which includes my presentation, The Future of Caregiving, a panel discussion Caregiving Visionary Award winners, and our Caregiving and the Workplace Summit.

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This is so exciting, Denise! And it gives us power. Together we are changing the face of caregiving. Thank you for all you do!